The Charlotte News

Sunday May 22, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "Headlong House", speaking of an incipient revolution within the Revolution fomenting in the same state where the thirty-year Revolution of 1910 began over the Diaz election allegedly stolen from opponent Madera, continues the analysis of Mexico's expropriation of the oil wells, based, Cash tells us, on the peasants' desire forthwith for "the millenium", even though the grab was against the more informed judgment of President Cardenas. But, predictably, increased expectations brought on by his own rhetoric and promised ejido programs when clashing with the bald economic realities, not enforced by sterner than pie-in-the-sky normative aphorisms, manifested themselves ultimately in the demand for the oil wells. The insistence that to achieve future economic prosperity always requires present sacrifice and is not susceptible of toilless instant gratification was missing obviously from the rhetoric by which he achieved office.

It is a lesson this country has had instilled over long time.

Yet, a couple of days ago, we heard this political speech in this country by one of our fellow countrymen pumping all kinds of argot again--"tax-cut", "entrepreneurial spirit", "safer and more secure borders", "volunteerism", health care through self-contribution to savings...and so on and so forth. In other words, something like, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for yourselves while the government busies itself figuring how to balance the budget after we gave you all those tax-breaks and how to keep you feeling more secure in your paranoid, xenophobic delusions about the aliens."

Candidly though, entre nous, here in the entresalle, we rather sense that we are over-entrepôtted with these aphoristic statements with little or no positive result from them for the past five years, must be; so much so in fact that we find ourselves not at all entrepreignant but rather quite entrecounted with respect to any more of it, these platitudes--but that's just our sensation and inclination.

Seems as though, however, that about two-thirds of the country has come to the same conclusion.

But, what us outside the palace ground worry. That this fellow continues to seek to appeal only to his little third, the remaining band of gypsies who got him into this spot on the hotseat in the first place, those who step with entrails in the night path, yet without so much as an ignis fatuus to demonstrate the way ahead, shouldn't bother us much. We've other things to do.

To borrow from Borrow this aphorismic platitude re these faux-naïfs qua faux-bonhommes, "The Gypsy tent must make way for the palace, but after a millennium or two, the Gypsy tent is pitched on the ruins of the palace." Maybe, as we have heated the whole mass so quickly in the last century, it is now compressed to far less than that--perhaps another decade, maybe less.

"Minton's Background" implicitly suggesting that his state of native origin might fix him as perhaps someone involved in a witch hunt--or was it as a witch-finder or even the actual article?--refers to Sherman Minton's Senate bill to make it a crime to publish a "known untruth". He withdrew the bill after enormous political pressure exerted by the nation's newspapers. Minton had also supported Roosevelt's enormously unpopular Court Bill, aka the Court-Packing Plan, in 1937. But, nevertheless, for all of his political trip-trap trips during his single term as a Senator, after having been appointed in 1940 by FDR to the Court of Appeals, Minton went on to be appointed by President Truman in 1949 to the Supreme Court where he stayed for a lack-luster seven years before retiring. Upon his retirement in 1956 he described himself as an "echo" and accurately predicted that there would be more interest in his successor, who turned out to be the liberal William Brennan, than in his passing from the bench. For his faults, however, in generally taking positions against civil liberties in favor of strong governmental powers, which included registering his dissent in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952), which ruled unconstitutional, as beyond the reach of the Executive power without first Congressional approval by passage of a law for the executive faithfully to execute, Truman's unilateral action in emergency seizure of the steel mills to avert a strike during the Korean War,--(a good case, incidentally, for adjudging the validity of a claim of power by the Executive to engage in warrantless domestic spying on a claimed emergent basis, in complete derogation of Federal law passed by Congress in 1978)--, Minton did vote with the unanimous Court in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954-55, holding the outmoded and failed 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson separate-but-equal doctrine unconstitutional and ordering desegregation of public schools with "all deliberate speed".

There is, of course, a fine line between "civil liberties" as practiced by many "civil libertarians" and using these same "civil liberties" effectively to take away the civil liberties of others against which a strong central governmental power might be utilized to insure the continuation of them for all in finely honed balance. But whether the learned Justice Minton ever really understood very well that balancing hand in adjudging all pursuits of government and the law, as opposed to an ad hoc political-winds approach to adjudication, appears at least debatable.

As to the witch's brew set forth in the piece, we don't know. We've never tried any black magic. But, when all else fails in effecting change of a stubbornly persisting royal-minded pack of leaders, and their low-minded peasant vassal-minions, perhaps a little resort to the ancient crafts of the soil and boil-broth and trouble-bubble might serve as fire-break to prevent the worst.

Yet, on second thought, come to think of it--maybe that's what the Republic Cans and Ringo K. Galaxy were really up to all along with that devil-blue-dress stuff back there eight years ago, employing both the Law of Similarity and the Law of Contagion, eye of newt, too, borrowing, no doubt, from the Ancient Mawnroe Book of Wisdom from the brackish backwaters to enhance their sympathetic witchy-stew. Get the low-down on people so as to have that spell-caster.

Seems, in fact, that the NSA, and the Executive branch in general, has taken the philosophy over lock, stock and barrel now--that Ni-yonian philosophy.

But they forgot, maybe, from the Maxim Book of Future-Past Parables this Rule:

Twos can plays at thems games...

We didn't say, after all, that we had never dealt in alchemy.

Now, where did we mislay our copy of The Golden Bough?

Having read some of that, now, we've struck an idea in fact. Let's get reparations for the expropriations, long overdue from 1938, and then use them to go back down yonder to Mexico and drill for some more of that good old black gold, giving back prosperity from whence we took and take it, thus insuring the 40% unemployed Mexicans a job of work to do, effortlessly sealing thereby our borders in the bargain, as all the work and increased wages will provide a happy-happy land for them, too, and they won't, for want, wish to come to ours. Save the Guard for the hurricane season when they are sure to be needed for re-deployment, in which case, otherwise, the border will be breached in double-drench time as the wall of emigres held up in delay will burst forth with a vengeance--when the winds blow again and the tides ride the high waves but good off the oiled-up atmosphere roiling the boiling waters down below.

We'll call it all Re-Expropriation Millenium-Extraction Tedesco-Extinction Veriliquous-Extraordinaire Elysian-Vision Maxy-Can Day, or just Rex-Mex-Tex-Vex ... May-Day, for short.

On the other hand, we could announce a Red Alert on global warming and bring to bear all our primary assets and resources, intellectual and economic, for an eight-year N.A.S.A.-like crash program to end all dependence on fossil fuels and thereby make a positive and assertive exemplary step forward for the world to follow in saving itself from ultimate worldwide economic and societal extinction and otherwise rank chaos. But, perhaps, that is just too vexing to bear.


But remember, like it or not, rock 'n' roll is here to stay.

Lasser At Work*

That there's a good deal of distress and suffering throughout the country because of unemployment, goes without saying. At the same time, behavior in such cities as Cleveland, where last week 150 persons sat themselves down in the Council Chamber and threatened to stay until they got what they wanted, doesn't necessarily mean that this mood is characteristic of all the unemployed. Not a bit of it.

There is an organization of unemployed persons and relief clients called the Workers Alliance. David Lasser heads it, and if David Lasser isn't a full-fledged Communist, he is a deep pink in color and altogether a very unlovely fellow. He thrives on trouble and dissatisfaction; and it was David Lasser's Workers Alliance that staged the relief sit-down in Cleveland.

Not that they hadn't, apparently, some excuse. Times are hard in Cleveland, and relief appropriations are running low. But if the Workers Alliance isn't demonstrating about the supply of relief, it is demonstrating about the quality of relief. Their point is to keep demonstrating, whereas the vast majority of the unemployed would be, we believe, somewhat ashamed to make such capital of their misery.

Reluctant Jurymen

They had a lot of difficulty finding citizens who didn't balk at serving on the jury in the Government's case against coal companies and peace officers in Harlan County, Kentucky. The excuses put up by the venireman named Johnson are typical. He had already been accepted and was in the jury box when he complained to the judge that he wasn't feeling well.

"Aw, you're not sick, are you, Mr. Johnson?" the Court asked him. "It's a fact, Your Honor, and this is pretty hard."

"This is pretty hard," in all truth. Harlan County is a tough place, and the toughest hombres of all are those charged with enforcing the peace laws. If a fellow gets in bad with that crowd, he's likely to be forced into a fight with a professional plug-ugly or to have a bullet put in his back.

Things are probably a little safer with the Government on the job, and it may be that the Senate Civil Liberties Committee's spotlighting of conditions in Harlan County has given pause to the Sheriff Middletons and Jathanks and the hundreds of deputies on the payroll of the Coal Operators' County Association. Still, there was the great reluctance of the citizens to serve on a jury to try the Government's case, which ought to illustrate the great danger in letting civil liberties go too long unprotected even in such refined places as Jersey City.

Minton's Background

Out in Rochester, Ind., they've unearthed a witch, an old Indian woman; and a judge, finding no statute under which he could confine her safely to jail, has solemnly decreed that she must leave town. The methods the old squaw used to cast her spell were--

Pick a victim. Get combings from his hair. Insert these in a bottle with judiciously measured portions of cat hairs and vinegar. Bury the bottle. Then relax and wait for the victim to wither and die.

That is what is called sympathetic magic. Or more exactly, the very ancient branch of sympathetic magic known as homeopathic magic. You can find it described at great length in such vast tomes as Sir J. G. Frazer's "The Golden Bough." Spittle, [indiscernible words], or the body excrements would have done just as well as the victim's hairs. Or the old hag could have fixed up a wax doll named after him and melted it over a slow fire or stuck it full of pins and he would have died just as infallibly. Jacques Casanova, the great, fat lover of the eighteenth century, got hexed that way once. A lot of black people get hexed that way in South Carolina and Gawgey and Alabam' yet. And so do some of our white mountain folk back in the Blue Ridge.

The mental processes by which people have come to believe in such things are obscure, very obscure. But it seems to be a combination of simplicity and imperfect observation of cause and effect. Mental processes by which people find out about the witches and know that they work are very obscure, too. People with such peculiar powers are called witch-finders.

All of which suddenly reminds us that Senator Minton, the boss of the Senate Lobby Committee who believes that lobbyists and newspapers have hexed the country, comes from Indiana, too.

Speaking of Differentials

We have rather put off consideration of a new wage-and-hour bill which the House jerked out of the hands of its Rules Committee, because there is every sign that the Senate will apply the kibosh to any such legislation at this lingering session. Southern Senators, especially, who are proportionately more numerous then their brothers in the House, surely will rise in their wrath against the absence of any differential in the bill in favor of the Confederacy. They have a glaring precedent, almost a tradition, by now, for the inclusion of a differential.

It arises from a practice of the Federal Government itself. And this is no petty differential, such as between $12 and $13 for a week's work. No, this is a whale of a differential, a 250 per cent differential, a differential as between $27 a month and $65 a month.

For those are the monthly wages which WPA, under Messer Hopkins' direction, pays for the same kind of work in North Carolina and New York respectively. And patently it doesn't make sense for one branch of the Federal Government to go down the line for exactly equal minimum pay in North Carolina and New York while another branch is blandly offering two and a half times as much for common WPA labor in New York as in North Carolina. And as for the availability of WPA jobs in New York and North Carolina--ah, that is yet another story.

Headlong House

It looks as though President Cardenas of Mexico may have a revolution on his hands in San Luis Potosi which may possibly spread to the whole country. The oil companies, particularly the British oil companies, will probably take credit for that. But it is likely that the thing had to come soon or late.

Cedillo, the rebel leader, seems to be simply an adventurer of much the same stripe as the late Pancho Villa. Cardenas, on the other hand, gives considerable evidence of being genuinely concerned for reform of long-time economic, social, political and religious abuses in Mexico. But unfortunately he has gone ahead much too fast and with highly dubious methods. The mass of the Mexican people is made up of completely unlettered and primitive Indians or mixed Indian-Spanish breeds. And Cardenas' reforms have often been utterly beyond their capacities to carry them out. Worse, he has tolerated, if he has not actively approved, the preaching of the Communist baloney among them. And upon such simple people, the effect has been explosive. Without any notion of the difficulties to be dealt with, they have taken to demanding the millenium without any further ado.

It was such demands, reports say, that forced him into the expropriation of the oil companies against his better judgment. And now in consequence of that move, the production of oil has broken down almost altogether and the simple workers, finding themselves not only without the millenium but without jobs, are hopping mad against the Government. Apparently it is on that, more than anything else, that Cedillo is capitalizing.

Fixing The Guilt

The Roosevelt administration has fired ten men from the Pennsylvania WPA as the aftermath of the charges hurled in the late campaign in the state. Ten men described as "minor officials and straw bosses."

Which is plainly as it should be. The charges were made, indeed, against Boss Earle, Governor and Democratic Senatorial nominee, and his pal, Matt McCloskey, contractor of Philadelphia. They had it in those charges, that Boss Earle (1) made it plain that any WPA worker who did not work for him and contribute to his campaign would lose his spot on the public payroll, (2) borrowed $20,000 from Pal McCloskey, and (3) had Pal McCloskey appointed to a job on the board which had the dishing out of WPA contracts--and that the board thoughtfully gave Pal McCloskey $13,000,000 worth of those contracts.

What the Roosevelt administration wants above all right now is to snuggle up to Boss Earle. He's the Democratic works in Pennsylvania as a result of the campaign. And he's already pretty mad over the fact that the Roosevelt administration all too plainly hedged on Boss Guffey, John Lewis & Co., and against himself in the campaign. And if the administration decided to involve him in an investigation about WPA, why, that would naturally insult him and make him madder than ever.

You see how logically all that proves that it was only the straw bosses, don't you?

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